Since January, 1.1 million people have arrived in the UK by sea, with 346,000 arrivals taking place in March and April alone, despite the coronavirus lockdown which saw millions of Britons effectively quarantined in their homes.
On March 23rd, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a police-enforced lockdown, with Britons told to only go out for essential items or exercise once a day in an attempt to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.
However, the prime minister faced criticism for ordering citizens to go into effective house arrest, whilst the country’s external borders remained open to travellers.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage remarked at the time that it was “all too late” as aeroplanes from virus hotspots like Italy, China, and Iran kept arriving.
Britain is still under a relative lockdown, albeit some restrictions have been lifted. But only this week has the government introduced a fortnight quarantine for any travellers arriving by boat, plane, or train from abroad, the exemption being travellers coming from the Republic of Ireland.
It had been observed that the UK was an “outlier” for having imposed no entry restrictions at all, despite some 130 countries worldwide imposing closed borders, travel bans, and quarantines to protect their citizens. The astounding figures of entry since the New Year cast doubt on whether the government had thought through its pandemic strategy.
Sir David Skegg, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday in comments reported by The Times: “These border measures would be most effective if they were done very early.”
“As with New Zealand, all these cases were imported. This disease did not originate in the UK. It would have been much more effective if you’d done this in February,” Sir David added.
Prof Gabriel Leung of Hong Kong University also told the select committee: “If you look around the world, the places that have imposed border restrictions earlier on have tended to come out much better with local outbreaks.”
After Letting Mass BLM Protests Break Lockdown, UK Makes Masks Compulsory on Public Transport https://t.co/7pf4ScTB4M
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 6, 2020
Critics have however cast doubt on whether the police can enforce the lockdown on travellers. Sources speaking to The Guardian in June revealed that around one-fifth of travellers would receive a spot-check from police during their quarantine, with a source saying: “To get caught, you will either have to be unlucky or stupid.”
Some lockdown rules for UK residents have been lifted this week, including that grandchildren can now visit their grandparents from Saturday, but there are growing calls for the government to scrap the two-metre (six-foot) social distancing rule.
The calls come from Tory backbenchers including Sir Iain Duncan Smith and John Redwood, with concerns that the rules will further impede the economic recovery of the country. Other nations like Singapore, France, and Denmark have at least reduced that distance to one metre (or one yard).
“The number one and single most important priority to unlock the economy is getting the distance down to one metre,” Sir Iain told the Daily Mail on Wednesday.
“The difference between one and two metres is the difference between opening the economy properly and seeing it bump along at the bottom without being able to bounce back. The hospitality sector simply can’t make a living at two metres.
“It’s restrictive at one metre, but at least they can come close to making it work. And it’s impossible to run public transport properly at two metres,” the former Conservative Party leader added.
UK Police Admit BLM Protests Unlawful, But Won’t Enforce Lockdown for Fear of ‘Serious Disorder’ https://t.co/EspN32jCo8
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 8, 2020
It is also becoming increasingly difficult to justify lockdown measures when activists belonging to the far-left Black Lives Matter protests have flouted lockdown rules by gathering by the thousands, without maintaining social distancing and more often than not without wearing masks. Protests started at around the time the UK enforced that users of public transport cover their faces or risk refusal of service and even fines.
London police have admitted that the BLM protests were illegal, but were afraid to enforce lockdowns. However, the same week that the far-left protests began, police arrested and fined anti-lockdown protesters in Hyde Park, London, for “breach of Covid-19 regulations”.
Breitbart News’s James Delingpole that the BLM demonstrations had “killed” lockdown, and have “made it quite impossible for anyone with even half a brain to see the ongoing lockdown as anything other than a ridiculous joke”.
Delingpole: Black Lives Matter Has Killed the Lockdown https://t.co/5SFA4OSYQo
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 5, 2020